It’s summer time and I’m exhausted. Black coffee is still a staple in the morning, but when afternoon comes around and I need a little pick me up, I have been making iced coffee to enjoy. I HATE!!! the oil-based creamers out there so sweetened condensed milk is my favorite addition to cold coffee, Vietnamese-style. Yes, you can just add the canned stuff, and it is tasty, but I wanted more. More flavor, more depth.
I have seen lavender latte recipes floating around on the internet, but I wasn’t loving the idea of making a syrup to add to my coffee but I was loving the condensed milk, so I came up with a way to make lavender infused sweetened condensed milk. It was pretty simple, but you need to have an hour to consistently stir the milk mixture to make this. But let me tell you, IT IS WORTH IT. The sweet lavender milk is so good, I was tempted to drink all of the milk with a straw once it had cooled. It is SO GOOD!!
Want to make your own? Here is what you need and how I did it:
1.5 cups of milk, whole or 2%
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of dried lavender
1/4 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)
First you need to infuse the milk with the lavender. It’s really easy, you just need to make sure you don’t over heat the milk to prevent curdling. Yuck.
To infuse the milk, combine the milk and the lavender in a saucepan and bring the milk to a simmer. As soon as bubbles start to form, turn off the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then, strain out the lavender and return the milk to the saucepan.
Then I followed this awesome recipe from the Food 52 blog, but instead of it taking 2 hours, my milk reduced in an hour, which was nice because devoting 2 hours to stirring did not sound fun. Again, you need to watch the heat on this to prevent curdling. Double yuck.
This reduced down to about 2/3 cups of sweetened condensed milk and I split my milk into 2 small jars to try one with vanilla added and one without. I liked both versions so I can’t say which tastes better as I really liked them both. So if you like vanilla, I say add it, and if not, leave it out, it still tastes amazing!
Once your infused milk has cooled, it’s time to make your coffee! Pour it into a glass, add ice cubes and then add 2-3 (or 4 or 5) tablespoons of the milk and stir to combine.
Pop in a straw and POOF! Your iced coffee dreams have come true!
The lavender pairs so well with the cold coffee and the milk, it is absolute coffee perfection! I will be drinking these all summer long and think you should too!
I’m back, you guys!
And guess what? So is Ecto Cooler!
Yay times a million!!!!!
Remember that super-duper, tasty, bright green “juice” from the 80’s? It’s back in stores along with the upcoming release of the new Ghostbusters movie this summer. And while I am down with the all-chick cast, I am 100% in love with the fact that Ecto is back AND it tastes so familiar and delicious, just like back in the day of crimped hair and pinned pants.
So, to get back in the swing of things, I made a fun little video for the cocktail and would love you forever if you watched it. Double bonus points if you actually make it and share it with your friends.
Making this recipe couldn’t be simpler. Here is the breakdown of the recipe to save for later:
Pineapple Ecto Punch
makes 1 cocktail
4 oz Hi-C Ecto Cooler
3 oz pineapple juice
2 oz St. Germain
3-4 leaves of fresh mint
Add all ingredients to a glass full of ice, stir, and enjoy ALL SUMMER LONG before the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man comes to smash up your town.
This morning I was on the Dave Ryan in the Morning Show as their Almost Co-Host of the Day. Dave, Falen, & Steve were super duper nice and to make sure that we would be BFF’s, I brought along some Grapefruitcello, because you can never go wrong with morning vodka. Amirite?!?
We talked about some weird jobs I’ve had, my run-in with the Backstreet Boys back in the day, and how you never read the internet comments about yourself because people can be jackasses sometimes.
I included the audio clip above, if you missed it or want to relive all of the humor, crazy stories, or the insults that make morning radio sparkle.
I’m currently working with a group of ladies who all came up with recipes inspired by Oscar nominated movies in anticipation for the 2016 Oscars. You can make these recipes for an Oscar party that your hosting or attending or just if you are looking for some new recipes to add to your food and drink repertoire.
The movie I was using for inspiration was Mad Max: Fury Road. The trailer reminded me a bit of one of my favorite movies ever, Tank Girl. What can I say?? I have an affinity for chicks with shaved heads who get crazy and blow shit up in deserts.
Unfortunately for the super hot Charlize Theron and her rescue wives, this movie just wasn’t as appealing as I thought it would be, but I don’t think I was the target market of this movie. Maybe it’s because I’m older now and the thought of all that sand getting in my mouth and hair really did not sit well. How much dirt, grime and soot did they actually eat by just breathing? Blech. With all of the dust and explosions, all I wanted to do after the movie was brush my teeth and take a shower. Visually, the movie was shot really well and I loved the artistic side of it from a photographer point of view.
My recipe is a palate cleanser of sorts, because gritty sand in my mouth makes me gag. My most favorite flavor to get a yucky taste out of my mouth is citrus, more specifically, I have been OBSESSED with ruby red grapefruit for the past few months. I am a HUGE fan of making liqueur at home and have a soft spot in my heart for all types of homemade ‘cellos.
Typically, limoncello is an after dinner drink in Italy, and my Ruby Red Grapefruitcello is perfect liqueur to sip after spending the day trying to blow up crusty, filthy warlords with creepy skeleton denture masks in the wasteland.
Ruby Red Grapefruitcello
2 1/2 cups high quality vodka (this time I used Prairie Organic Vodka)
4 large ruby red grapefruits peeled, then juiced
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
optional: add 1/2 of a cut and scraped vanilla bean to the grapefruit peel/vodka mixture. YUM.
Can you believe I have been appearing on Twin Cities Live for a year now? Craziness, I tell you!
I reprised my role as a “lifestyle expert” today as I mixed up some delicious chocolatey goodness. And for you non-chocolate lovers, a flavorful vanilla drink. And if you can’t be pleased with “hot” or vanilla, I made a super amazing Pretzel and Salted Caramel Frozen Hot Chocolate. YES. (There happens to be a secret announcement in this appearance, so watch it or be out of the loop!)
recipe inspiration via www.therecipecritic.com
2 cups of milk, scalded
5 fresh mint leaves
3.5 oz of milk chocolate, chopped
5 Oreo cookies (filing removed), crushed
recipe inspiration via www.recipesthatcrock.com
4 cups of milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (add another 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar if you like sweeter milk)
1 tbsp vanilla, or 1 inch of vanilla bean, sliced and scraped
Add all ingredients to a crock pot. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Set crock pot to “low” and heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve in mugs and garnish with whipped cream and ground cinnamon.
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with whipped cream, crushed pretzels, salted caramel sauce and serve immediately.
Winter is coming. In Minnesota, it usually starts a little earlier and lasts a little longer than a “normal” winter. This year, it has been warm and not-so-snowy, which for a snow lover like myself, I am finding a little disappointing. I want massive snowstorms every weekend! I want skiing and snow forts! I want to go outside, freeze my ass off and then go sit on the couch and warm up with a little hot beverage. I want Vanilla Brandy Cider!
The warm beverage season keeps my insides toasty and happy. Yes, yes, there are pumpkin spice lattes, hot chocolates and my yummy Tom & Jerry, but my Vanilla Brandy Cider keeps me smiling all fall long. And you want to know why? Because: brandy.
Good enough reason, right? Brandy pairs with apple cider so perfectly, like peanut butter and jelly, but in the liquid sense. It just works. Here is a quick history lesson on brandy if the thought of it doesn’t exactly get your mouth watering. Brandy, if you don’t know, is grape based and the name is the Dutch word for “burnt wine.” It can be made from the juice of not only grapes, but apple, blackberry, or any fruit that, when mashed, makes juice. Basically, if you like wine, you will like this. And if you don’t like wine, you will still love adding brandy to apple cider. This concludes your random alcoholic beverage facts for the day.
Back to my go-to fall cocktail.
Yes, it’s as flavorful and tasty as the name suggests. Would you believe it warms your bones when the air gets nippy? Fact. That is why I love it and why I buy a couple of gallons (yes, GALLONS) of apple cider from my favorite local apple orchard. Apple cider keeps its freshness for a few months and if you buy a great cider late in the season, it can last well into winter. Simmering a vanilla bean into the cider just ups the flavor to an insane level. The hot cider mixed with the vanilla, plus cinnamon and the brandy is a fiesta for your nose. The scent is heavenly, followed by the taste which is off-the-charts-fall-goodness.
Have I sold you on the idea yet? Yes? Fabulous. Here is how you make your own Vanilla Brandy Cider.
3 cups apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 of a vanilla bean, split & scraped
4 oz of brandy
Combine 3 cups of apple cider, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain cider to remove cinnamon and vanilla bean contents. Fill a mug 3/4 of the way with cider. Then, add 2 ounces of brandy to mug, stir and enjoy. Makes enough for 2 servings. Feel free to double the recipe for a group, but 1 cinnamon stick should suffice for a larger batch.
Now only if the weather would cooperate. Come on, El Niño, you’re cramping my winter style, my insides haven’t frozen solid yet. Let’s get below freezing already so I can thaw out my internal organs with warm, boozy drinks.
I know I say this every Halloween post, but I LOVE HALLOWEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!!
I was back in “lifestyle expert” mode yesterday and shared some really fun and creepy Halloween ideas on Twin Cities Live, just in time for you to add some of my suggestions to your big Halloween rager this weekend. Or, use these recipes as your pre-Trick or Treating meal, to fuel your begging-for-candy-from-the-neighbors adventure.
On the menu was the aforementioned Rats on a Stick, 3D Skull Cakes with buttercream glaze, Alien Punch with gummy eyeballs, and for the drinking crowd, my Spook 75, a twist on the French 75 with gin and creme de violette. YUM. Try one or make them all. (Fun fact: my youngest would not even try the Rats on a Stick. He thought they were made of rats since they really looked like rats. Mom win!)
I put a lot of time into developing the recipes and making sure they were delicious, but also easy to whip up. No fancy skills needed, just a love for creepy Halloween food. If you watch the video, I also spent many hours crafting up spooky, evil decor. Mini pumpkins painted with black metallic paint. A foam Medusa head complete with 20 rubber snakes as hair. Copper painted bugs sprinkled everywhere. I found awesome black and white striped pillar candles and paired that with matching napkins, and polka dot plates. And don’t get me started on the 5 varieties of Halloween paper straws I snagged. Most of the finds were inexpensive, from the Dollar Store, or the bargain bin areas at Target and Michaels. I found the Wilton skull cake pan in-store at JoAnn, had a coupon so I got it for 50% off. Booya!
Here are the recipes I shared:
1 1/2 lbs of ground beef
3 tbs minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs parsley
1 tbs basil
4 tbs grated parmesan reggiano cheese
3 slices of bread, torn into very small pieces
Combine all ingredients in large bowl well. The best way to combine is with clean, dry hands. Make sure everything is fully incorporated. Once the ingredients are mixed, divide the meat into 8 equal balls. Roll the balls into ovals and start to pinch out a head/neck. Try to keep the “body” in a more oval shape. Bring the “head” to a point for the nose. Lay out the 8 “rats” in a 13×9 inch pan, making sure they don’t touch each other. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up, you can add BBQ sauce, spaghetti sauce with a brush. Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Add 12 inch skewer for the “tail”. Use peppercorns for eyes & nose. Use dried rosemary for whiskers. Use sliced almonds for ears. (Make sure that if you want to decorate the rats, do it before cooking. Once they are cooked, they are not soft enough to add the eyes, nose and ears.) Serve alone or with a side of spaghetti.
Wilton 3D skull pan
any boxed cake batter (follow box directions)
1 tbs butter, room temperature
1 tbs cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbs vanilla extract
3 tbs milk
1 cup powdered sugar
Using an electric mixer, combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla and milk on low speed for 1 minute in a large bowl. Add powdered sugar to bowl, starting the mixer on low then, moving up to high once the sugar has combined. Glaze should be thin. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of milk. If it’s too thin, add a small amount of powdered sugar. Add glaze to a zipper sandwich baggie, cut off 1 corner and use baggie as frosting bag. Glaze skulls.
You know how I made a bunch of tasty LaCroix cocktail videos a few months ago?
They were short, funny and chock full of delicious cocktail goodness?? Well, LaCroix saw them and recently asked me to come up with a Halloween-themed mocktail for them.
Now, now, don’t get scared off by the term “mocktail”.
Not everyone loves the booze as much as you and I. And my kids ask to try my new creations all of the time and I either have to say no, or make a mocktail-version for them. (And if you want my secret alcohol recommendation for this little number, I would go with a really good vodka. Shhhhhhhh.)
What really makes this video the best video I have ever created is the gorilla suit. Cuz it’s Halloween, yo. I couldn’t do a Halloween video without going for some sort of costume. And, I may have gotten a little carried away with the fog machine. But you will have to watch it to see what I am talking about. On to the Black Magic Mixer video featuring Lemon LaCroix!!! Kid-friendly! Yummy!
Black Magic Mixer:
1/2 oz vanilla simple syrup
2 oz pineapple juice
black sugar (optional)
Add vanilla simple syrup and 10 blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the berries until they have released all of their juice. Add the pineapple juice and fill the shaker with ice. Shake. Rim the top of a glass with black sugar. Strain the shaker into the glass. Top off glass with 4-6 oz of Lemon LaCroix. Stir, enjoy and be filled with the spooky spirit of Halloween.
I love La Croix Sparkling Water. Not just because it’s sparkly, or has a great line of flavors, but I love how guilt-free it feels after I have a can. Or two. And I can, because it’s just water! Score!
If you add the guilt-free factor to cocktail creation, well then, that is something special. Low cal drinks?!? What?!?
Well, I went ahead and came up with 6 new cocktails featuring different flavors of La Croix. Orange, Apricot, Peach-Pear, Coconut, Piña Fraise, and Cran-Raspberry. I have a few more on the backburner, but those will come at a later date. And by the way, do you know about their 3 new flavors?!!! I’ve only had the Blackberry Cucumber, and it is super tasty.
With 6 videos created, shot, and edited, I had to make a fun little teaser video, combining all of the best moments. Here is the teaser video:
Want to see the finished videos? Please say yes! I worked so hard on them!
Keep scrolling and let me know your favorite recipe! I personally think the St. Peach-Pear is a knockout. You need to try it, stat.
The Apricot Blossom:
Apricot La Croix mixed with homemade blackberry simple syrup makes the Apricot Blossom bloom in your mouth. WHUT?? Make this ASAP!
Make the Apricot Blossom!
Fill a glass with ice.
add 2 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz blackberry simple syrup
top off glass with Apricot La Croix
Stir and enjoy!
Cran-Raspberry La Croix is the star of this raspberry focused cocktail. Just add some fresh squeezed lime juice and Chambord, a french black raspberry liqueur and POOF! the Razzy is in your glass.
Make a Razzy!
add 2 oz Chambord
juice from 1/2 lime
top off glass with Cran-Raspberry La Croix
Stir and enjoy!
The St. Peach-Pear:
Hallejullah! The St. Peach-Pear is here, making your cocktail experience heaven sent. Featuring St. Germain, elderflower liqueur and vanilla extract, the St. Peach-Pear is a delicious addition to your cocktail arsenal.
Make a St. Peach-Pear!
Add some ice to a medium sized glass.
Add 2 oz St. Germain
4 drops pure vanilla extract
juice of 1/2 of lime
top off glass with Peach-Pear LaCroix
Stir and enjoy!
The Faux Driver:
A faux screwdriver…but nothing is fake in this adaptation…real orange juice and vodka. Only difference is the DELICIOUS basil simple syrup and the Orange La Croix. And those 2 elements is what makes this an upgrade to the basic drink.
Make a Faux Driver!
2 oz vodka
2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
2 oz basil simple syrup (recipe below)
4 oz Orange La Croix
Basil Simple Syrup
Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil for about 2 minutes. Add fresh basil leaves and simmer 1 minute more. Strain out basil and use when cool.
Add vodka, fresh squeezed orange juice, basil simple syrup to a large glass. Top off with 4 oz of Orange La Croix. Enjoy!
Pineapple infused vodka is the perfect mixer for the pineapple strawberry flavored La Croix. Don’t believe me? Make one for yourself and try not to fall in love with the flavors!
Make a La Piña!
Add 2 oz pineapple infused vodka (recipe below) to a glass. Top off with chilled Piña Fraise. Enjoy!
Pineapple infused vodka:
Add fresh cut pineapple to a jar. Cover fruit with vodka. Cover jar and put in fridge for at least 5 days to fully absorb the pineapple flavor. Use when vodka is at desired taste level.
The Coco Plum Fizz
Coco Plum Fizz
Coconut La Croix is my ultra favorite…but then I LOVE coconut anything. What is great about Coconut La Croix is it’s not overly coconutty and mixed with fresh plum and basil and the citus flavors of the elderflower, the Coco Plum Fizz is pure cocktail gold!
Make a Coco Plum Fizz!
Take a fresh plum and cut it in half. Cut the half into slices and add to a lowball glass. Add 2 fresh basil leaves to the glass and muddle ingredients.
Add 2 oz of St. Germain. Pour in about 6 oz of Coconut La Croix. Stir and Enjoy!
It’s Wednesday, which means you need to start thinking about what cocktails you will be drinking on Friday.
I have been mildly obsessed with La Croix the past few weeks. Bubbles, like pop, but no sugar. WHAT. I love the Coconut and the Lemon flavors. And in my experimenting, I found the Lime is an awesome addition to my Peach Mojito. That got me wondering, what other yummy La Croix flavors can make awesome low-calorie cocktails?? Time to get mixing.
I went straight for the new “Curate” line of 2 flavored beverage and focused on the Cerise Limon, aka Cherry Lime. So delicious straight outta the can! YUM! And as always, I stress the use of fresh fruit whenever possible. Fresh cherries would be AWESOME in this cocktail, but I couldn’t find any at the time. And yes, fresh limes need to be in this drink too. Really makes the flavors pop!
I love La Croix because it is flavorful and bubbly without the extra sugar. And I hate super sweet drinks. Or juices. Or frosting. Too much sugar is gross. Blahhhhhh.
Then, after a little mixology, I came up with the refreshing, not overly sweet, Cherry Lime Sparkle. Want to have one on the deck tonight? Here is the recipe:
Cherry Lime Sparkle
(makes 2 cocktails)
1- 12 oz can Cerise Limon La Croix
maraschino cherries, plus juice (if fresh cherries are in season, USE THOSE INSTEAD!)
1 fresh lime
4 oz of Cointreau
Get 2 lowball glasses, fill with ice. Then add 2 oz of Cointreau to each glass. Cut your lime in half and squeeze the juice of a half of lime into each glass. Add 3 teaspoons of cherry juice and 2-3 cherries to the glasses. Then grab the can of Cerise Limon La Croix and top off the glasses (about 6 oz each). Enjoy immediately.
Happy almost-end-of July!